Fresh fruits and vegetables – Do looks matter? US consumers weigh in
November 27th, 2023, Janice Fernandes

Fresh fruits and vegetables – Do looks matter? US consumers weigh in

Purchasing fruits and vegetables with imperfections in their appearance could not only cut food waste but also grocery bills. But not all consumers are willing to readily make that trade-off.

A recent YouGov survey delves into consumer perspectives on imperfect produce, revealing a divided landscape. Almost half of US adults (48%) are open to purchasing these items, tolerating irregularities as long as quality is upheld. However, a substantial 43% remain unlikely to embrace imperfect produce.

Data further reveals that younger Americans (18-34-year-olds) are significantly more likely than those over 55 to consider purchasing imperfect produce (58% vs. 37%).

What factors influence consumers to purchase imperfect fruits and vegetables?

Among those likely to purchase fruits and veggies with irregularities, the leading motivator is the lower price tag (66%). Notably, the 55+ age group places a higher emphasis on cost-saving factors (75%) than their younger counterparts (57% of 18-34-year-olds).

Reducing food waste is another influential factor, with 53% considering imperfect produce for this reason. Convenience, for example, picking up produce from nearby local farmer's market even if imperfect in appearance, is a factor for 48% overall, with the 18-34 age group (58%) placing it almost on par with price as an influencer.

What puts consumers off buying imperfect fruits and vegetables?

On the flip side, appearance is the major deterrent for those steering clear of imperfect produce, with 54% citing it as a significant concern. Quality follows closely at 48%, with the 18-34 age group expressing the highest worry about overall product quality (54%).

Nearly two-fifths of respondents (39%) say that the perception of a variance in taste influences their decision not to buy imperfect produce, followed by roughly a third (35%) picking health concerns like food safety as a reason.

Overall, the data reveals that there are multifaceted considerations that influence consumers' decisions regarding purchase of imperfect fruits and vegetables.

When asked if they would be willing to purchase subscription boxes that provide imperfect produce at a lower price to reduce food waste, 5% of respondents said they already have such subscriptions.

Over a third (37%) of consumers say they would be willing to consider such a deal, while more than two-fifths of respondents (43%) are not open to purchasing imperfect fruits and vegetables even through subscription boxes. The demographic breakdown shows that 18-34-year-olds are more willing (49%) than unwilling (34%) and those over 55 are the total opposite (27% vs. 52%), while the middle-aged group is split (39% vs. 40%).

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Methodology: YouGov Surveys: Serviced provides quick survey results from nationally representative or targeted audiences in multiple markets. This study was conducted online on November 2-3, 2023, with a nationally representative sample of 1,091 adults in the United States (aged 18+ years), using a questionnaire designed by YouGov. Data figures have been weighted by age, gender, education and region to be representative of all adults. Learn more about YouGov Surveys: Serviced.

Image: Getty Images